Zinc does not cure colds. It shortens the duration of the symptoms - at least that’s the claim. I am three days into this cold - one en route with accelerating craptitudinousness, then one with a sore throat and sneezing, then one with a cough in the morning and pretty much nothing more after that. Still feel 65%, but a normal cold would still have the worst ahead.


Phone does not charge. Wife’s phone. This means there’s crud in the charging port, and since I couldn’t get all the crud out I went to the Apple Store. They said there were corroded connectors due to water exposure, and it would be $280 or so to get a new one.. Great! Fantastic! I’m in the mood to spend that kind of money to replace a phone, just as I’m keen to spend the same amount to replace the low-voltage transfomers that power the landscape lighting, both of which blew a circuit. Here! Take my wallet, pull out all the pieces of paper and eat them! I’ll make more!

Gah. I wandered over to the AT&T store to see what was possible. Forget about using a contract renewal to get a subsidy on a phone; they don’t do that anymore. Did you know that? I didn’t. No more “$300 phone for $127 with contract” stuff. You pay the full freight, pal. Party’s over.

The sales assistant asked what she could help me with, and I said I had a phone with a corroded charging port that needed to be replaced. She pointed to three laminated sheets on the counter and asked if I had cable.

Huh. Well, yes, I have DirecTV.

Awesome. Then you can bundle and save ten dollars a month!

What? I was bundling with my internet provider.

AT&T bought DirecTV.

So I have to rebundle? Great - but I’m here about this, this phone.

Do you have a security system? She tapped another laminated sheet and explained they had a great deal on this new security system they were offering, which provided security.

You can control your lights from an app on your phone, she said.

I felt we were getting off topic, and because I did not feel well what with the cold in my head I may have failed to stifle my impatience, because I said:

“Does it work with Wink? Belkin? Vue? Homekit?”

She stared at me and said “You can control your lights from an app on your phone.”

Okay, so we’ve just established the parameters of your expertise.

“Is it a proprietary AT&T system, or can it control other platforms?”

“It’s AT&T.” (Pause) “You can control your garage door from an app on your phone.”

The thing is, I keep trying to come up with reasons I would want to control the lights from my phone, and I can’t justify it. I have them set on timers. They come on. Later, they go out. Works for me. To handle the lights we use around the house the most would require rewiring the plates, and there’s just no reason to do that. If I lived in a new-construction house with Ethernet everywhere, sure, I’d love it. But here? No. And I cannot tell you how little I would look forward to saying to my wife “you can open the garage door with your phone now!”

But my phone is in my purse, she would say. And the old remote was right up here on the sun shade. Why would I want to dig out my phone and turn it on and enter my passcode and go to the app and launch it. Why. Why.

I couldn’t answer that. See, here’s the thing about actual switches: 100% success. I turn off a light, it’s turned off. I point a device at the light and press a non-existent button, there is no 100% success rate. It’s possible that soon we will have a wearable that can sense your presence and dim or raise the lights accordingly, but this will require me to sit down and adjust the parameters, i.e., if it is after 11 but before 2 AM, do not assume I will not be returning if I leave the family room for the kitchen, and do not spring on all the kitchen room lights when I enter because I’m just throwing away a kernel of popcorn that fell on the floor.

Anyway. I couldn’t upgrade my contract for two months, and even then it would be a $45 Just For the Sheer Hell of It Charge, and the new phone, my wife’s, would be “out of contract.” That sounded bad.

“It would cost less,” she said.

It would? What’s the advantage of being in contract, then? She said a lot of things I did not understand, except that the end result was a sudden stab of hatred for my carrier. Decided to get a cheap phone and leave it at that. Too bad daughter had sold her previous phone to someone on an internet barter site.

Went home, told wife her phone was toast, and she would be reverting back to her old phone until I upgraded my own phone some day.

“Okay, fine.”

Note to self: check out that DirecTV bundling thing where you bundle.



Three seconds flat!

Is that wood inside? I can imagine that would scratch. Makes a man sad when he gets the first big scratch anywhere, even if it's the trunk.

Bonus: The Ranch Wagon, which is big enough to handle vague shapes that are supposed to make you think of a boat:

Why yes, now that you mention it, I do recall that they won the Mobilgas Economy Award for its class. Matter of fact me and the boys were just talking about that the other day.




We return to the Black Widow. This one's a corker, but you wouldn't know it from the title.

Now I know how to say her name. and it’s pronounced Hot-cha:

When last we left our intrepid mystery-writer / detective / gunman. he was heading straight into a gas station in a runaway car. No doubts about how that went.

We also learn that Mr. Colt is not one of those cheerful, can-do-type heroes. He’s something of a dick.

Jeez. Round of applause for Mr. Gratitude. Sombra learns that Steve is still pursuing her, and calls immediate for special effects:

There’s no way they’ll notice a choking cloud of black paint rolling off the vehicle they’re half a block behind. BUT SOMBRA ESCAPES, because we have to move along to the next invaluable portion of any serial: technological mumbo-jumbo.

She has the rocket fuel, but it contains phosphoro, a highly inflammable gas. So the container can’t be opened, at least for this episode. Before she can think anymore on the subject, she gets a call from Dad, who’s itching to appear in his usual fashion: smoke and explosions.

This is dad, by the way.


Dad says his plan to dominate the world with atomic weapons can’t wait another week, so . . . Sombra should resume her impersonation of the girl, and try to use something called a Vocatrobe to get her to reveal the name of the substance that will render the phosphoor inert.

For a man who only has a week, it seems like a rather roundabout ploy. Why not straight-up abduction and torture?

Ah well. Sombra returns to her disguise, but apparently boosted the gain on the Hepburn factor a bit too high. She’s wearing a yardstick for shoulderpads.

She is a looker, though.

Ramsay Ames. Yowsa. Anyway, She pretends to pass out, and plants a bug under the table. It’s probably the Vocatrobe. How does it work? Apparently by simultaneously inducing diarrhea and the urge to puke:

Dr. Weston, once gassed, gives up the name of the gas they’re supposed to use to neutralize the other gas. Not far behind: Steve Colt, who got the location out of the gassed scientist. You know what this means: fistfight. And you know what that means: HATS MUST STAY ON.

Let’s go back to the start of the fight, though. The crooks have been sent to get a dangerous chemical that is invaluable for world domination. Who’s carrying it? Mugs McButterfingers:

Since it’s a chemical factory, you know where this one’s going to cliffhang, right?


That'll do, I hope; see you around. Half of the new Jerry Fairbanks Industrial below, if you're interested.


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